Date of Degree
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Ana M. Rodríguez-Rodríguez
First Committee Member
Denise K. Filios
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
Fourth Committee Member
In this dissertation, I analyze the strategies of resistance employed by Morisco narrators featured in three texts written and circulated in early modern Spain. As a diverse minority population of Muslim converts to Christianity, and their descendants, the Moriscos were constructed as a dangerous, sexually perverse Other whose bodies and cultural practices became targets of intense public scrutiny and surveillance. I argue that the narrators of the texts under study embed disguised, ambiguous forms of resistance in their public performances that challenge the system of blood purity that marks them as categorically inferior. The acts of writing and speaking, I propose, provide them with a space to reflect on their own complex, hybrid identities and to advocate for more flexible and inclusive definitions of Spanish subjecthood. The first text that I examine is Francisco Núñez Muley’s Memorial to the Royal Audiencia and Chancery Court of Granada, composed in 1567 as an attempt to negotiate renewed taxation in exchange for the protected status of Morisco cultural traditions. The second is Miguel de Luna’s Historia verdadera del Rey Don Rodrigo (1592, 1600), a pseudohistorical novel that rewrites the foundational Spanish legend of Rodrigo and La Cava, aiming to reverse positive depictions of the Vigisoths and negative depictions of Arabic leaders. I conclude with an analysis of the Morisco characters from Part II of Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quijote (1615), showing how resistance of narrow definitions of Spanish citizenship persisted even after the systematic expulsion of the Moriscos.
My analysis draws on James C. Scott’s theory of public and hidden transcripts, which maintains that subordinate groups, even in the most controlled environments, have historically found ways to challenge their oppressors through veiled forms of resistance. To examine the tension between collective and individual Morisco identities within the texts, I unite Scott’s theory with the concept of intersectionality, looking to the ways in which lineage, religion and ethnicity collide with gender and class to facilitate and shape acts of resistance. I focus especially on how the narrators of the three texts engage questions of women’s sexuality to undermine oppressive discourses that masquerade as truth. I find that the revered figure of the virginal woman is a particularly potent symbol of resistance that the narrators develop to disrupt the normative parameters of Spanish subjecthood. In the process, they also open the paradigm of virginity to Morisco women, routinely stereotyped as hypersexual burdens to the empire, and create opportunities for these women to exert agency.
Cervantes, gender, Luna, Morisco, resistance, women
xi, 201 pages
Includes bibliographical references (pages 195-201).
Copyright © 2018 Jennifer Lynn Heacock-Renaud
Heacock-Renaud, Jennifer Lynn. "Hidden transcripts of resistance: Moriscos and the gendered politics of survival in early modern Spain." PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) thesis, University of Iowa, 2018.